Thursday, January 27, 2011

Characters You Can Pinch - Part 5

Creating Realistic Characters:  Add Complications

When I say to add complications, I'm not talking about internal or external conflicts.  I'm talking about the shades of grey that live in all of us.  We love someone, yet can't stand them.  We want to be liked, but don't really care what other people think of us.  We want to do good, but there's an evil part of us.

If we can find a way to put this into our novels, our characters will become more alive.  And these type of complications aren't necessarily spelled out to the reader in a passage.  These types of complications come as an observation of your characters interactions with others.  (Some of this will be covered in Part 6 Effective Use of Dialogue.)

So, how do you go about placing these complications in your characters?  Have them act one way, while their internal or external dialogue is saying something else.  For instance, you have a character that just broke up with their boyfriend after three years of seeing them.  Obviously, there's going to be extreme heartbreak and bitterness, maybe a sense of betrayal.  Yet, not most of us wouldn't want them to know how much they affected us.  It's called pride.  This character might carry on in front of them as if nothing went wrong, maybe even stage a rendezvous with a new love interest.

Another example, and I'll pull from my most recently completed novel, Assassination of a Dignitary.  Raymond Hunter had changed his life around.  Formerly, a hit man for the Italian mafia, he is now a family man.  He's not an evil person, yet he has done evil things.  So while you don't sense that he's a dark character, you can sense there is an aspect that is within him that is - conflict.  A good person who is capable of horrible acts.

I wish I had an exact formula that would implant this strategy into your novels, but I don't.  But, I do believe as you apply other aspects of making Characters You Can Pinch, you just might find that these complications are interspersed without you even trying.  And  you know why?  Because you'll be writing your characters as people, not shadows on a page.
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Next post:  Characters You Can Pinch - Part 6:  Effective use of Dialogue